Parliamentary Conference Opens in Jordan amid Tensions
Delegates from 123 countries have gathered to discuss peace in the Middle East and international cooperation, at an interparliamentary conference, which opens in Amman Sunday. Prior to the official opening, tensions arose between the Iraqi and Kuwaiti representatives, a matter that added to the tense atomosphere brought about by the a statement by Jordanian MPs who said Friday the Israeli delegation will be barred from visiting their parliament.
Jordan's King Abdullah II was due to give an opening speech on the importance of "establishing a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East to help the region's countries develop," an official source said.
The international embargo against Iraq is also up for discussion, reported AFP.
However, the Kuwaiti delegation declared in advance their rejection to a suggestion by the Iraqis asking the assembly to set up a delegation to visit their country and “have a closer look at the destructive effects of the embargo,” press sources told Albawaba.com.
Inter-Parliamentary Union chairwoman Najma Heptulla said at a press conference late Saturday the MPs would talk about "peace, stability and global development in the world and about establishing economic and cultural policies that draw people closer together."
Nevertheless, a group of Jordanian MPs made it known Friday that Israeli representatives at the 103rd IPU conference would be barred from visiting this country's parliament.
Heptullah dismissed as baseless claims that the conference is aimed at “marketing Israel in the region.”
She told reporters “the only thing the we came to market here is democracy.”
Speaker of Jordan’s Lower House, Abdul Hadi Majli, who attended the presser, toned down the deputies’ statement. He said the question was “a matter of opinion,” and that neither the Israeli nor any other delegation will be visiting the kingdom’s parliament, because none of sessions will be held there.
It seems that not only the Jordanian opposition MPs who are displeased with the Israeli presence. The same press sources said a Jordanian journalist had a verbal quarrel with members of the Israeli delegation at an Amman hotel Sunday.
Thirteen parliamentary delegations are trying to insert additional items into the conference agenda. Algeria is trying to add a refugees' rights discussion which would primarily concern the 3.5 million Palestinian refugees.
Israel would like to place on the agenda a discussion on creating an IPU group to study helping young nations obtain information and communications technology.
Japan and Australia want to add agenda items on fighting illegal immigration and piracy at sea.
A total of 1,400 delegates, including 70 parliamentary speakers, will take part in the conference, the highest number ever to attend, Majali said.
A delegation from the Palestinian parliament in exile will attend with observer status. Iraqi speaker Saadun Hammadi will also attend.
But the dissolved parliaments of Sudan, Pakistan and the Ivory Coast will not be sending representatives.
"A debate on suspending these parliaments could take place Monday," IPU secretary general Anders Johnsson told AFP.
The IPU, which is based in Geneva, was founded in 1889. Its membership includes 139 national parliaments and five regional assemblies.
The organization's objective is to work for peace and cooperation between people and to strengthen representative democracy.
The last IPU conference was held in Berlin in October 1999 and the next one will take place in Jakarta this coming October – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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